Everywhere you go in Africa, people do everything they can to help you. They don’t want to let you down or disappoint you. This is especially true in cafes and restaurants.

One beautiful Lamu morning I dropped into a cafe and ordered a pineapple juice, only to see the owner-cum-waiter run down the stairs and out of the premises shortly afterwards. He returned some 15 minutes later, perspiring and somewhat breathless, clutching a pineapple, freshly purchased from the market.

In Dar es Salaam my partner and I went out to celebrate an anniversary with a ‘posh’ meal. We found a reasonable looking restaurant with what looked like an extensive menu. I ordered a pasta dish. “Sorry sir, we don’t have.” “In that case, I’ll have the steak.” “Sorry sir, we don’t have.” “Chicken and chips?” “Sorry sir, we don’t have.”… “So, what do you have?” “We have the chicken sekela.” “And?” “Just the chicken sekala.”

But my favourite example of this African trait was in a Kenyan restaurant that shall remain nameless. Fancying a leisurely breakfast, I seated myself on a covered roof terrace overlooking the Indian Ocean and ordered an omelette, then sat back to wait, drinking in the view (and the coffee). About an hour later the waiter returned carrying a plate on which was a little pile of ham, another pile of cheese and some chopped tomatoes. “Sorry sir, no eggs,” he exclaimed, before turning on his heel and bidding a hasty retreat.

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